AR headsets promise new enterprise productivity, but can the startups building them survive?

Just as the bluetooth headset ushered in an era of hands-free calling, AR startups are trying to convince manufacturing startups that AR headsets will bring new efficiencies with hands-free computing.

As Magic Leap and Microsoft have dropped hundreds of millions trying to spend their way into new tech modalities for enterprise customers, smaller players are relying on less ground-breaking hardware and hoping that easy-to-use software can drive new customers into their arms. One player using this approach is an AR startup based just outside of Portland called RealWear. They aren’t promising digital holograms and floating whales, but they’ve received over $100 million from investors that seem to believe in a more “conservative” approach to enterprise AR.

RealWear’s HMT-1 hardware is akin to the form factor of yesteryear’s Google Glass, but the tech is even more straightforward, it’s not a transparent display just a small screen in a worker’s line-of-site that can be pushed out of the way when not needed. When it comes to differentiating a hardware startup that isn’t relying on its own hardware advances, there are definitely risks that another deep pocketed player can replicate what they’ve done, though RealWear certainly isn’t short on investor cash

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